Verizon and AT&T criticize open Internet rules proposed by FCC chief

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said the rules would ensure net neutrality, but the broadband providers argue there’s a better way.

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday proposed rules that would ensure net neutrality and protect an open Internet. Providers of Web access—namely Verizon and AT&T—don’t like the stipulations.

Wheeler’s proposal went to FCC commissioners Thursday, and it includes rules that would prevent broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, degrading lawful Internet traffic or using “fast lanes” to prioritize Internet speeds and content for broadband affiliates.

“My proposal assures the rights of [Internet] users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone’s permission,” Wheeler wrote in an op-ed piece on Wired.

If Wheeler’s proposal is accepted—the FCC is scheduled to vote Feb. 26 on net neutrality—the Internet would be considered a utility, giving the FCC power to stop broadband services from abusing their power. Broadband is currently classified as an “information service,” which means it’s free of the regulations governing telecommunications.

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